Aaaaahhhhh.. Nothing feels more luxurious to me than a long, supported Savasana, or Final Resting Pose. I try to fit in at least one a day, even if it’s only in the few minutes before I fall asleep at night. Savasana, like other forms of self-care, offers a long list of health benefits (see a few of them over on the Gaia blog.) It’s great for all phases of life, but if you’re pregnant, plan to get pregnant, or want to teach yoga to pregnant women, you’ve got]to know how to modify Savasana for pregnancy. This post will show you how to do reap all the benefits of Savasana before, during, and after pregnancy.
Why Savasana Is The Most Important Yoga Pose
When it comes to Savasana, people either love it (I know I always have!) or they have a really hard time with it. When I’m teaching yoga, I watch closely as my students settle into Savasana. Sometimes it is even a little comical to watch students fidget, scratch their noses, peek to see what other people are doing—anything but just lay there and relax! I know that sometimes there’s a physical discomfort that makes it hard to relax, but, more often than not, it’s that our minds are so accustomed to go, go, going all the time that we just don’t know how to slow down, much less stop (even for just 5 minutes!). Just like with all the other poses, practice makes possible. I’ve seen many students fidget for weeks in Savasana. But, over the course of a few month, I watch their breath get deeper, the muscles of their faces relax a bit, and finally they seem to settle in. And that’s why I think Savasana might be the very most important of all the yoga poses—it teaches us busy Westerners how to slow the hell down.
Of course, slowing down is important for all phases of life. But it is vitally important during pregnancy and when you have a baby at home. Think of it this way. During pregnancy, your body is growing a whole person on top of the normal, everyday functions of your body. (Can we take a moment to awe at how freaking amazing it is that we can grow a person with working organs and a human brain and those adorable wide eyes?) A pregnant body is working hard every second of every day even though you might not be able to see or feel the work. When you have a little one, the work is a little more outward—all the time you spend feeding, rocking, changing diapers, and taking care of yourself, too. Look, there’s only so much energy to go around, so, at the end of the day, you’re going to feel much more exhausted and tired than you would normally. Savasana can help you build back your energy reserves—especially if you make time for it every single day.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just lying on your back when you’re in the second or third trimester of pregnancy because lying on your back for even small periods of time is a no-no. So, you have to do some modifying to get comfy. Savasana with a baby can be even more complicated, because, well, if a baby’s uncomfortable they’re not going to silently fidget until it’s over, they’re going to scream cry until they are comfy (and a screaming baby really doesn’t make for a soothing restful Savasnaa).
How to Practice Savasana
If you’re not pregnant, baby is napping, or if you’re in your first trimester Savasana can safely be practiced the traditional way, lying flat on your back. So, go ahead. Lay down and rest. Let your legs be slightly apart, and your feet open out to the sides like a book. Bring your arms by your sides and rest the backs of your hands on the floor so the palms face up toward the sky. This is a gesture of receptivity (you’ve been giving so much, Mama, now it’s time to receive!). Close your eyes, let your breath be natural, settle in, and be still for at least 5 minutes (set a timer if you need to). If you have 10 or 15 minutes to spare, that’s even better. When you’re ready to get up, slowly roll to your right side and pause here for a few breaths before you press your hands into the floor and lift yourself up to comfortable seat.
Get Comfy: If you have any low back pain at all, try rolling up a blanket and placing it under your knees. Cover the eyes with an eye pillow or even a dark piece of fabric to block out the light.
How to Modify Savasana for Pregnancy
1. Side Lying Savasana. It’s better to lie on your side during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy because the weight of the growing uterus can press on a major vein (the vena cava) and limit the flow of blood and oxygen to your little squish in utero. Having a couple of bolsters to snuggle with can be a great way to get comfy for this way to modify Savasana for pregnancy. Line up two bolsters on the right side of your yoga mat. Lie on your left side next to the bolsters. Keep your left leg straight, and bend your right knee to about 90 degrees so you can rest your right knee, shin bone, and possibly your right foot on the bottom bolster. Stretch your left arm overhead so you can rest your head on it like you would a pillow. Rest your right arm on the top bolster and snuggle in.
Get Comfy: If your left hip is uncomfortable at all, put a blanket underneath you for extra padding. If your back is uncomfortable, try supporting it by placing a third bolster behind you. If you have any pressure in the top hip, it might because you need to lift your right leg higher—you want the knee at the same height as hip, so if your bolster isn’t big enough stack some blankets on top until you’re in better alignment.
2. Savasana on an incline. I am a back sleeper, and I’ve always found it easiest to relax when I’m lying on my back. So when I was pregnant, I preferred to modify Savasana for pregnancy this way. Set up an incline (for detailed instructions see How to Use Props to Get Comfy for Restorative Yoga During Pregnancy.). Everything else is exactly the same as a regular Savasana on your back
Get Comfy: To really settle, in try a blanket under your head for a little extra support. You could also roll a blanket up and place it under your knees and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or a dark piece of fabric.
How to Practice Savasana with Baby
Though including your baby in your Savasana might not be the MOST efficient way to rest, when you and your baby are calm, there’s nothing sweeter than Final Resting Pose snuggled in with your sweet-smelling babe. Every week, I teach moms how to incorporate their babies in their yoga practice in standing postures, seated postures, and relaxation postures—this, of course, includes some type of Savasana. And sometimes we wind down just as all the babies either fall asleep or are amazingly calm and there is a brief moment of quiet. The mamas are able to lie down, cradling their sleepy little ones in the crook of their arm and we all breathe a deep sigh of relief. Just as often, however, when it’s time to wind down the babies are tired, cranky, and, well, not having it all. In those times, we have to all be OK with any kind of rest we can possibly get. Sometimes that means the mamas sit upright babies in their laps and place, one hand to their own heart and another to their babies heart while the take in just 3-5 deep, calming breaths. (Hopefully, mamas can get a more restful Savasana in when they get home and get their babies down for a nap!) But the point is this, as moms the time and environment we have for relaxation isn’t always ideal. If we can find just a little glimmer of peace amidst the chaos, though, I believe it will sustain us until we can fully rest.
What’s your favorite way to practice Savasana? Do you do it before bed? Only at the end of a yoga practice? What ways has deep rest benefitted you?